Thursday, January 10, 2008

Teachers Have a Special Place in my Heart

I've always admired teachers, my sister is one and for the first year out of school, I also worked for the NYC department of education as a sub. and then permanantly in Special Ed. classroom.

Recently, I discovered that Dan Brown (UPDATED, he is not author of The Da Vinci Code, he's a different Dan Brown) penned a memoir called The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle. It takes a fine human being to teach, not just anyone would teach public school in the Bronx. Kudos to him on his new book, which he says has gotten great reviews.

This one's going on my reading list too!

The other night, I had trouble falling asleep and watched Independent Lens . REVOLUCION: Five Visions on PBS - a look at five talented photographers in Cuba who documented the struggles of Cuba.

The vivid imagery and a poem featured in the film captured my soul. I'd like to share it with you all:

Como un nadador que se ha perdido
Debajo de la capa de hielo,
Buscó un lugar para emerger.

… pero no hay ningún lugar.
Toda la vida nado con la respiración.
No sé cómo podéis vosotros hacerlo.

Estamos ciegos.
Cegados por el futuro.
No vemos nunca lo que está ante nosotros,
Nunca el próximo segundo.
Vemos solo lo que hemos visto ya.
Es decir, nada.

Al fin y al cabo no puedo ser el único
Que se ha dado cuenta.
Tan listo no soy.
Sólo se han puesto de acuerdo
En no hablar de ello.

Como caminan todos toda su vida sin
Conocer el momento siguiente,
Sin saber si con el próximo paso pisarán aún
Suelo firme o caerán en la nada.

Pensé que era el sueno equivocado o el mundo
Equivocado al que había ido a parar.
O quizás era yo el equivocado para este mundo,
Para este sueno.

…pero si resulta que solo soy vuestro
seuno común, que todos vosotros me habéis
sonado desde el principio, que nunca fui
otra cosa que el sueno de otros,
entonces os ruego mis queridos sonadores:
¡sonad a partir de ahora con otra cosa!

No puedo más.
No pretendo que os despertéis.
Por mi seguid durmiendo mientras queráis y
Dormid bien pero dejád de sonarme.

Y explicadme una cosa,
Damas y caballeros,
¿qué sucede con un sueno cuando
despierta el sonador? ¿Nada?
¿No sucede ya nada?

Like a swimmer who has gotten lost
Under a layer of ice,
I look for a place to emerge.

… but there is no place.
All life long I swim holding my breath.
I don’t know how you all can do it.

We are blind. Blinded by the future.
We never see what’s in front of us,
Never the coming second.
We see only what we have already seen.
That is, nothing.

After all I can’t be the only one to realize it.
I’m not so clever.
They’ve only agreed not to mention it.

How all walk all their lives without knowing
That following moment,
Without knowing if with the next step
They’ll still tread solid ground or will fall into nothingness.

I thought I had wound up in the wrong dream
Or the wrong world.
Or maybe it was I who was wrong
For this world, or this dream.

… but if it turns out that I’m only
your common dream, that all of you have
dreamed me from the beginning,
that I never was other than the dream of others,
then, my dreamers, I beg you:
from now on dream of something else.

I can’t go on,
I don’t expect you to wake up.
For all I care you can keep sleeping
as long and well as you want,
but stop dreaming me.

And explain to me something,
Ladies and gentlemen,
What happens with a dream
When the dreamer wakes up? Nothing?
Nothing happens anymore?

-from The Mirror in the Mirror, by Michael Ende. Translated by Juana Rosa Pita.

A quick futile search for this book by the German author of the Neverending Story lead me to find that the book is rare and out of print. The best price I found for it was on Abebooks for $121.00.

I hope it gets reprinted!


  1. Dear Literanista,

    Hi, this is Dan Brown, the author of THE GREAT EXPECTATIONS SCHOOL. Love your blog.

    I really appreciate the post and the picture of the cover, but I have to tell you I'm not the same guy that wrote The Da Vinci Code and those other thrillers. I'm a 26 year old teacher in New York, and The Great Expectations School is my first book.

    It's gotten great reviews, though. Hope you enjoy it!

    Best regards,

  2. Hi, Dan:

    My apologies, you must get that all the time. Best of luck with your book, I will edit my post and want to add that my admiration remains.

    Cheers, Lit


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